Well it was a star studded affair at the Cuisine Canada Book Awards, held for the second year at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair on Friday November 6th. Publishers, authors and media types, mingled discussed food, and The Royal, as well as the other Royals Camilla and Charles after their earlier morning visit to The Royal, and of course ate! With Jurgen Gothe hosting, Anna Olson, Lucy Waverman in the audience along with man about town, well Vancouver town, Whitecap publisher Robert McCullough, it was the A list foodies out in full force for a standing room only event.
The audience positively gasped when Company's Coming took home gold in the Cookbook Category for Small Plates for Sharing, beating out Fat in the category, a James Beard Book Award winner. Anita Stewart's Canada took home gold in the Canadian Food Culture category and Beyond the Great Wall, by Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, took gold in Special Interest category.
Ricardo positively beemed and was genuinely humbled in his speech to have won in the French category for his book Ricardo.
Three additonal awards were given. Culinary Landmarks Hall of Fame, is a new award and this year was given in honour of Elizabeth Driver's tome Culinary Landmarks: A bibliography of Canadian cookbooks 1825-1949. This is an incredible book and took Liz 17 years to complete!
The Edna Award is given in memory of Edna Staelber long time writer and champion of food. The award is given to an individual who has contributed to the promotion of regional cuisine and who exemplifies the region through his or her work This year's winner is the amazing Robert Arniel from Newfoundland.
Probably the most touching moment came with the announcement of The Founder's Award, given on occasion to those Canadians who have achieved a lifetime of service to the culinary community of Canada. They may come from any field of culinary endeavour. Judy Creighton, of Canadian Press, is only the second recipient and received a standing ovation from the audience and gave a funny and endearing speech.
The awards are in their 12th year and this year's short listed books seem to have outstripped the awards criteria, which in itself is a great indication of the today's terrific Canadian food writing. Hopefully a few tweaks here and there will bring everything in line.
The reception afterwards was a wonderful meeting of people and food. Jeff Crump's, (Ancaster Old Mill) mushroom cauliflower risotto was sublime, made all the better when I went to Chef David Garcelon's (Royal York) table and topped it off with the crackling from his pork roast. Yummy! Garcelon's dark honey was delicious,drizzled on just about anything but especially Monforte cheese; the honey came from the wonderful roof top garden of the Royal York Hotel. Accompanying wine from Niagara Teaching College Winery was a pleasant surprise and I've put their Pinot on my list to buy after tasing it at the awards.
All in all this is a growing event, and with a strong list of books in 2009 next year's awards ceremony should be even bigger and better.